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tv   [untitled]    June 11, 2012 10:00am-10:30am PDT

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supervisor mar: bid afternoon. the meeting will come to order. this is the monday, june 4, 2012 meeting of the land use and economic development committee. my name is eric mar. i am the chair person. to my right is vice chair, supervisor malia cohen. to my left is supervisor scott wiener. our clerk is alisa miller. >> please silence all cell phones and electronic devices. completed speaker cards and copies of documents should be submitted to the court. i detected upon today will be on the gentle board of supervisors agenda unless otherwise stated -- items voted on today will be on the june 12 board of supervisors and in the. >> item number one, resolution authorizing the department of the environment to accept and expend an american recovery and reinvestment act of 2009 funded grant in the amount of $200,608 from the california energy commission's state energy program through the local
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government commission to support greenfinancesf. >> we have mr. rodriguez from the department of the environment. i am the sponsor of this resolution. it is seeking approval for associate membership in the california rule, -- home mortgage finance authority by joining the authority, san francisco residents and businesses will have access to their low interest loan program as an alternative to tax lien financing for homeowners performing home energy improvements. we have worked on a pace program last year and the year before, which was unfortunately struck down by federal authorities. now the san francisco board of supervisors -- we approved the program. we called it sustainable financing program sf to provide the tax lien financing to residential building owners to perform energy improvements. but this program was suspended in it 2010. by joining this mortgage finance authority, it provides an
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additional financing tool that helps property owners bridge the up front capital cost barriers of home performance anergy assessment and retrofits to help keep a new industry going after the expiration of the federal stimulus fund from the california energy commission and the energy efficiency block grant program that is currently using incentivizes property owners for efficiency upgrades. let me ask mr. rodriguez to make remarks. >> thank you. gosset from the department of the environment. just for a note, i believe the item that you just introduced is another item that you and i -- that the departed is working with your office on. that item is not calendar yet. this item is an accept and expend grant also for greenfinancesf. i lost my colleague to introduce that item. supervisor mar: i am little
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early. >> but thank you. we will get to that at a future meeting. >> thank you. good afternoon. rich from the department of the environment. i manage the greenfinancesf commercial program. this is an additional grant funds coming to the american recovery and reinvestment act through the california energy commission to the city and county of san francisco to administer the existing reserve fund for our commercial pace program. and this will be tied to a five- year contract amendment so that we have some funds at the department to manage the fund on an ongoing basis. i just wanted to give you a heads up that we will probably be coming back to you again in the near future, because there will be some additional grant funds come to san francisco to bolster our existing reserve fund. supervisor mar: do you know when that next -- >> we are working on the various parts of getting that contract
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amended and updated, so i think sometime in the next month we will be coming back. supervisor mar: thank you. i see no questions. let's open this up for public comment. would anyone from the public like to speak? seeing none, public comment is closed. can we move this forward with a positive recommendation? without objection. thank you. please call item number two. >> item number two, ordinance amending the san francisco building code section 1208.4 to reduce the square footage requirement for efficiency dwelling units pursuant to section 17958.1 of the california health & safety code, and making environmental findings. supervisor mar: thank you. the supervisor is -- the sponsor is supervisor scott wiener. supervisor wiener: thank you. two weeks ago, we made amendments in committee. there was some discussion at the time, and so i did continue its two weeks to allow further discussion, which we have now had. i have met with the council of
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community housing organizations, and they -- i do not want to speak for them, but they're not taking a position on the legislation. we now have before us again. this legislation amends the san francisco building code to bring the definition of an efficiency unit into alignment with what is permitted under the california health and safety code. this is legislation that will promote affordability by design in san francisco. to allow developers, including affordable housing developers, who had the flexibility to design a different units of different sizes that are affordable at different levels. the building inspection commission voted unanimously to support the legislation. this legislation defines an efficiency unit as being a minimum of 150 square feet of living area, which does not include a bathroom, a closet, or
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cutting area. with those that is no items, the total square footage has to be 220. our current building code requires that a living area be 220 square feet. the state minimum is 150 square feet. this would reduce our minimum in san francisco to conform to the state minimum. other code requirements including density controls for neighborhoods that have density controls, including height or bulk or accessibility are not impacted in any way. i know there has been some misinformation circulating air around that this will somehow allow for increases in density. that is not the case. for neighborhoods that have density controls, those controls will remain in place. if it is an rh1 district, it will still be just one unit, a single family home.
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rh2, two units. we have varying density controls or lack thereof throughout the city, and those will remain in place. if conditional use is required for a change, that will remain in place as well. this has no impact on that whatsoever. what it does do is provide developers with flexibility to create small units that are more affordable if that makes sense for their project. our current housing code in san francisco requires a minimum of 144 square feet for a unit, which is even less than what we are proposing for the building code today. moreover, for units to go below the current 220 square foot minimum, down to the new minimum of 150 square feet, there would be a maximum of two people who could live in the unit so as not to be having too many people living in a small unit.
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other cities in california have exercised their ability under state law to define an efficiency unit in a similar way, at 150 square feet, including san jose, santa barbara, and santa maria. seattle and new york city also have a similar minimum. san francisco has a desperate need for housing for all income levels. particularly for our work force, for students, for seniors, for a transitional populations. this legislation would promote affordability by design. it would lead to reduced construction costs and projects that take advantage of this, and it can be done without subsidies. in fact, there are projects in san francisco that are at that size. right now if you have a building that already has units that are rooms at the 150 square feet,
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you can convert them into housing at that size. and this board, last year, approved the transition age youth housing, which was created by the community housing partnership of larkin street. that project, the rooms are approximately 150 square feet. had that project been built as new construction, the building code may have prohibited it from building rooms at that size because of the 220 square foot minimum. so this will provide flexibility to create affordable options for both affordable housing developers and for- profit developers. it can be utilized, whether it is creating student housing, senior housing, or housing for artists or housing for transition age youth or for the many populations we have in san francisco who do not have access to affordable housing, who
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cannot afford many of the housing options in san francisco, and who do not necessarily need a lot of space because of whatever phase they are in their life. as noted, others zoning, planning, health and safety, it said direct controls will remain in place. colleagues, i ask for your support on this legislation. supervisor mar: thank you. let me clarify that the 220 square foot down to 150 square feet is not include a closet, bathroom, our kitchen area, but it is more of the bedroom and living area of the unit? supervisor wiener: exactly. right now you have to have 220 square feet of living area, apart from kitchen, bathroom, a closet, and this will reduce it to 150. these are the amendments i made last week, and is stipulates that when you include kitchen,
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bathroom, closet, it still has to be at 220 square feet. it is just the living area component is reduced. supervisor mar: it is for new construction. so king edward transitional age youth, which is the renovation of a hotel or bed and breakfast, is not included? >> the new destruction or if you were getting the interior of the building. it is when the building code gets into play -- or if you were gutting the interior of the building. right now, you would only be able to do the kind of project in an existing building, not if you're doing it from scratch. this provides more flexibility. supervisor mar: it really does seem like this increases flexibility for a developer to create more affordable units. it does not necessarily helping to create more family units, but still, for affordability in key areas of the city and transit- oriented development and other priorities, it is giving more flexibility to the city. supervisor wiener: i agree with
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that. i represent the castro-upper market area, and in that area, even though as in all areas we have a need for larger units for families, we also -- and this is true in many parts of the city. san francisco has a significant percentage of adults who were not in a family situation, who are not married and not living with their children. so in the castro-of a market area, we have a lot of single people who were either very young, some people who are retired and do not want to stay in the victorian anymore with 50 steps they have to walk up. they would like an affordable, smaller option. having the flexibility to build both large units and small units, i think, is a good thing. supervisor mar: thank you. if there are no other questions, let's open this up for public comment. is there anyone that would like to speak? we're going to limit it to two
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minutes per person. supervisor wiener: i have one public comment card. tess. >> thank you, supervisors. i appreciate the opportunity to talk about this efficiency unit. i will be supportive of them with a few conditions that i think we need to look at. i think that your arguments about having more small units available are very good. but what is the rush? why can we not have a full review by the planning department and planning commission to look at how this fits in with our overall policy? building department has approved it. good. but let's get planning involved. also, the question about making this -- calling this affordable by design. i do not think there is anything in here that actually says that those units will be affordable. they could become bed and
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breakfast units. there's a lot of possible ways that they would not be affordable. if there was something in here that does say that these are required to be at below market rates of x, y, z, that would be another thing. but i suggest that we -- i ask you to send it to planning. there many new projects that are breaking ground in the upper market and octavia neighborhoods. around the van ness, too, there will be. some of those projects might wish to take advantage of this legislation and change their building configuration. will lead to do a little bit more looks through on this. thank you. supervisor cohen: could you come back to the podium? i hear your request to send it back to planning. i actually -- i would like you
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to clarify it. what do you believe sending it back to planning and having them reviewed it, in what way does it add to this project? >> well, while it does not change existing zoning of buildings, it could change neighborhoods quite a bit. for example, again, in the upper market area, we have a lot of new construction. there is quite a bit plan for your area in town, too. if, instead of a project that is going to have, say, 10 units, you have 20 units, that is quite a bit of impact on transit. it has an impact on the neighborhood's livability. there are quite a few other questions about, you know, just how we want our city to be shaved. so -- shaped. planning has looked at those different kinds of policies as well as the zoning issues, and i think they
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can add something to this discussion. >> he said that there's something in the legislation as it, ok, if these deficiencies are used for affordable housing, low income housing, then you'd be ok with it. but since the legislation does not spell that out, you're advocating that it goes to the planning department? >> i did say that, and eyes should correct myself and say that i would supporte it for lo- income. i would support it for any income level. but hopefully we're going to clarify whether it is for any income or if it is targeted to affordable. but in neither -- in either case, i would still like it to go through planning. they put in a lot of work and helping us to scope the city and look at the work that they have done on the lennar project, so i think they can bring something to the table here. i deferred to the people in the room who have more knowledge
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about planning than myself. i am a homeowner and residents, but i am also housing provider, and i support more housing in san francisco. supervisor cohen: thank you. supervisor mar: of would like to ask if and mary rodgers can give the planning staff's recommendation. i understand that cindy lou, vice-president of planning, has said that it does need more analysis on the impacts of open common areas and open space. there have been a number of letters of people saying more time to analyze its impact of opportunities for low-income and homeless families. i think those were questions raised from correspondence we head from a number of advocates in the community. but what is the planning staff's perspective. >> good afternoon. i am with the planning department. this ordinance does not amend the planning code. neither staff nor our commission has analyzed this are evaluated
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it. we review legislation that is a planning code amendment, so every week we report to the commission about new ordinance is that the board of supervisors have introduced. we do report and ordinances that not planning code amendments, so we would report -- but if they are linked to land use in some way like this one, maybe. if they are not a planning code amendment, we advised the commission we will not bring this before them for consideration unless they would so request. in this case, we did not initially received a request. we have had a commissioner who is interested in discussing it now, but we have not analyzed it to date. supervisor mar: from the last committee meeting, as i recall, there was somebody who might have been representing ccdc, and peter cohen spoke of concerns. they met with supervisor winter, and it seems as if those concerns have been hurt. >> yes, i met with them, and i
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was informed that they are not taking a position. also, norman from ccdc informed me that they do not have the death -- a position on it either. there are some scenarios where this will benefit affordable housing, because if there are more units, you could have a higher number of on-site inclusionary units. >> perhaps if i can add one other thing. lastly, there were allegations that this could cause some sort of ceqa issue for environmental impacts, and that is not the case. although we did not review this ordinance from a policy perspective, we did review it from ceqa. so the ordinance before you has secret clearance. our environmental review staff stated that they feel that this is it the minute of the amount added, and it would not jeopardize any of the plans or programs. supervisor wiener: in follow-up
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to the question and answer from supervisor cohen, for a project to go through in san francisco, you have, euphemistically, a few hurdles to overcome and various codes. their cumulative to one another. they do not replace one another. you have to comply to the building code, and building code says what ever is this, and this would change the building code in terms of the square footage. in addition to that, you have to go through planning department review. you might have to go through conditional use. you might have to go through discretionary review. there might be planning code and zoning controls of the maximum number of units. so if someone came forward and said, well, now that i can do a small unit, wanted to 20 units instead of 15 units, that will go through the planning process in the same way and in neighborhoods with at the same
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voice that there would have otherwise. this just will make the building code aspect of it more flexible. and in terms of low-income and affordable housing, i think that the goal here in allowing somewhat smaller units, it the developer chooses to use them, is to benefit both subsidized affordable housing, which it well, and market rate housing by making that market rate housing less expensive so that people who might be middle-class or who did not qualify for these subsidies will have a more affordable option. continuing with public comment. ernestine has submitted a car, too. >> good afternoon. i am here on behalf of the housing action coalition. this is part of our work on student housing. we have been working on that for two years. what has become increasingly
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clear to us is that smaller units are a necessary and logical response to a very, very high cost housing markets. and, as supervisor weaner noted, we're seeing them in all these cities in california, new york, and in europe -- as supervisor wiener noted. we have to solve the riddle of better land use to get more people in there. as was earlier mentioned, there is nothing in this building code change that says that these units will be allowed where they are not allowed currently. they can only go where the planning commission has said we want increased intensity. we have either relax or eliminated density controls. we're already building this type of housing. it is a very, very good and effective way of getting more housing more cheaply. it is sort of puzzling to hear
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this sort of inflated or in flamed claims about this. it is something that seems so modest to us and some of that is such a necessary part of delivering something that we need so badly, in this case, coming right up to student housing. we think it is a very modest proposal, and it does not change the rules anywhere, and anything that would require planning approval is still going to get it. i would hope that you move it forward. thank you. >> mr. chair, supervisors, i have long been involved in advocating for student housing. one of the things that we put in the legislation which is currently at the planning department will be up to you in several weeks is to make sure that it is flexible enough to
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accommodate the needs of the whole variety of institutions and students. for instance, older students, graduate students, law students probably want to live and on. therefore, you need space for them that is up 300 square feet, but maybe 150 square feet. whereas the younger students may want to live together and they would need larger units. so this fits the legislation and fits into the general program that has been going on in developing student housing. under the legislation that a former supervisor succeeded in getting through the board two years ago -- of course, every housing project for students has extensive review, including that sponsoring institutions must change their institutional master plans, which requires approval by the planning commission and perhaps the board of supervisors, i cannot
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remember. so there will be a huge array of reviews involved in any state in housing project. this building code issue israelis aboard and sent to the larger planning issues -- is really support an end to to the larger planning issues. it is more of a technical issue than a policy issue. thank you. >> i am sorry for my casual attire. i am the chair of the coalition for san francisco neighborhoods committee on housing. our position -- we really are concerned about this, because we think it may have a big impact. we recommend the planning department does review this, because they can provide an
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estimate as to the increase in the number of units. and the reason why i say that we're concerned is that in the recent past, just recent past, there have been some zoning changes. namely, nct. nct districts, the density limits have been removed, a completely removed. these are areas such as some parts of the eastern neighborhoods, market octavia, i think balboa park, and the mixed use districts in eastern neighborhoods. so all these areas have had density limits removed. another concern is that rto and of those areas, increased units are allowed so long as the building envelope is not increased. so when we say that there should not be too much concern about
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density, well, we have not seen the full impact of these changes. [bell rings] i think that is what the planning review is absolutely necessary. and one of the other issues is that we're concerned that this type of housing may be a method for the city or developers tone expense of family sized housing. that has not been address. we have concerns about this. thank you. supervisor wiener: is the coalition for san francisco neighborhoods in opposition to the regional arena goals? >> i think the issue is that the housing element says in their data, the finding analysis, that we need a certain type of housing and certain types of jobs developed. yes, what is being developed is, for the most part, 85% market
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rate housing. so you have the needs and what has been developed. there's hardly anything being done to make that mesh, to make it compatible. and this will, in effect, increase the number of housing because of the small units. but that does not really address some of the major issues of moderate income families leaving san francisco because of affordability and lack of housing for them. what is being developed is low end and high end. supervisor wiener: people who live alone need housing, too, don't they? >> yes, but most of their needs are met. the very low income and low income, as far as fararena goal -- as far as the arena goals,
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they're not 100% met compared to market rate. but as far as moderate income or middle and come, what is it, 20% met or even lower? much less compared to the other types of affordable housing. that is worthy goal should be, to produce more at the moderate income level of housing for the people in the work force in the city. the work force, for the most part, are commuting. or they're fortunate enough to live in rent-controlled housing. that is a sustaining factor. supervisor wiener: would you agree that we need to build lots of different types of housing? >> yes. supervisor wiener: yes, absolutely. thank you. >> a good afternoon, supervisors. thank you. having been engaged in the community planning pro